The answer is any time is a good time. We all have heard “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” by Margaret Fuller. Honestly even I believe that. Books open up so many horizons in front of us. They show us the whole new world, no matter how old and learned you are. Books hold the key to our wisdom and not just knowledge. So what’s the right age to introduce books to kids?
Reading books at early age helps children become more creative, helps in building vocabulary as well as language development. Once they start finding books entertaining, your worry about their gadget use and screen time will also go down.
“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” – Richard Steele”
What can you do as a parent or care giver?
One of the most important tips for good parenting is, kids do what they see in a better way rather than what they have been told to do. So, if you want kids to read, for that first you have to start reading. Show them how books contribute in our life. How books shape our personality. It’s the easiest way to introduce books, to their lives.
Read to kids regularly. Make it as a bedtime routine. Kids might not cooperate in the beginning if they are toddlers already, however they will accept it if the books are interesting. Kids are curious and they are always open to learn more.
I have some friends who started reading to their babies right from the month they were born. As an elder we might think that babies won’t understand what is in the book. May be, they won’t but believe me they will surely understand that this is a special time they get to spend with you. Slowly the books will start grabbing their attention.
Choices you can make:
These books are also called Snuggle books. They are meant to be the first books for the new-borns. They are washable, soft, light weight and do not have sharp edges. Babies love to play snuggle, chew, try to tear them apart, but the books are sturdy. Generally, these books help babies in developing sense like touch as it has different textures like rough, soft, fury or woolly. The colours are bright and attractive.
You can search online or in book shops for Baby Touch: Snuggle cloth book or Good Night, Teddy
Sound books, Noisy books and sing along books all are entertainers. This is an attention grabbing and awesome way to introduce books. My daughter has a Peppa noisy book. I gave her when she was 18 months, now she is 4+ yrs. yet that book is one of her most favourites. These books help children relate a particular sound to a particular event or object.
Pop up books:
These books have a surprise element and that makes them hit with kids. Right from nature, community helpers to festivals. You can find pop up books about everything. Now a days, books related to famous cartoon characters are also available.
Touch and feel books:
Touch and feel books are the hard version of the snuggle books. They come with soft and sturdy covers. My son had a touch and feel book about beach and he could feel the sand on the beach though it.
These books help in hand eye coordination, sense of touch and feel as well as introduction to colours.
Flip flap books:
Flip Flap books are easy for kids to hold and turn pages. The flaps can be slider as well as like pick up. I mean they can be doors or windows. Kids love to move these flips and see what is hidden behind them, every time they pick the books to read. In kids book the story or narration becomes secondary as compared to the fun they can have while reading the books. Because at early stage attaching them to the books is more important than teaching them morals.
Which books to introduce?
Here are few book suggestions. Introduce these books and try. These are completely based on my experience.
1. The very hungry caterpillar
Author/ Illustrator Eric Carle
What kids learn:
The very hungry caterpillar is one of the most famous kids’ books. There is so much to learn from them. Kids will learn Days of the week, colours, counting as well as about fruits. The process of Metamorphosis that is growth of a caterpillar to butterfly also gets introduced automatically.
2. Giraffes can’t dance
Author: Giles Andreae
Illustrator: Guy Parker-Rees
What kids learn:
This book can be Read out loud for kids age 1 to 4 and read yourself for kids aged 5 to 7.
As we live in the global atmosphere, kids must learn to be inclusive. This book tells kids that everyone is different and its okay to be different. Inclusiveness, acceptance of self as well as others are the key learnings. It also helps in Building Confidence and self-esteem.
3. We’re going on a bear hunt
Lyricist: Benji Bower
Illustrator: Helen Oxenbury
What Kids Learn:
It is said that a good book is one that teaches us something, without being direct. The journey about bear hunt is similar. It helps us understand internal conflicts. How to understand and resolve internal conflict and how to heal from the hurt.
4. Dear Zoo:
Author/ Illustrator: Rod Campbell
What kids learn:
This is a great book for kids 12 months and above. It’s a pop-up book with some touch and feel experience too. It’s important to help kids in developing the sensory actions of kids. What is soft, hard, rough and smooth. Also introducing different animals to kids at this age is a good idea.
5. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Authors: Bill Martin, Jr., John Archambault
What Kids Learn:
Musical or with rhythm introduction to upper- and lower-case alphabets. Its fun, this book was first published in 1989 and is still among the best seller for toddlers. The representation with colourful pictures and large font makes it attractive to kids.
All these books that I have suggested are available on the online platform. Depending on the age of your child you can choose a book and start reading it to them, its never late to start reading. Reading books reduces stress, helps in going to sleep easily, enhances emotional qualities like empathy, inclusivity, mannerism etc. Books also takes us into a different imaginary world, and helps in being creative.
If you are a reader, Do check out my post on 2 books for adults and kids alike.